Kevin Pillar makes Rockies debut Tuesday against Giants: “Joining a contending team is obviously exciting”

Kevin Pillar felt the trade coming before it happened, calling his final game with the Red Sox and the past 24 hours “emotionally draining.”

But the Rockies’ latest addition has already embraced his new baseball home.

“Joining a contending team is obviously exciting,” Pillar said Tuesday, prior to making his Colorado debut batting second and playing center field against San Francisco.  “(I will) play the game hard and bring some energy, on and off the field. Be vocal in the dugout and in this clubhouse once I feel like it’s the appropriate time. … Play hard and lay it on the line every single day. Bring some energy on defense and put together good at-bats offensively.”

Much of Pillar’s comfort in Colorado stems from familiarity. He played in 19 games against the Rockies last season as a member of the Giants — with 17 hits and 10 runs over 77 plate appearances (.230 batting average). Pillar, 31, said he has also worked out with multiple Rockies players in the past.

“I feel like I don’t have to go out and do anything crazy to fit in or make myself feel comfortable here,” Pillar said. “I think the guys got an opportunity to see me play. … They kind of know what sort of player I am and what I bring to the table.”

A significant draw for the Rockies is Pillar’s ability to play all three outfield positions. Pillar described his fielding style as “fearlessness and my willingness to put my body on the line to get outs. At the same time, having a good understanding of situations in the game. Whether the risk is worth the reward. … Just try to do the small things right.”

Pillar was average at the plate this season for Boston — .247 batting average, 13 RBI, seven doubles, two triples, and four home runs — as someone capable of being moved around the batting order. He entered Tuesday with consecutive multi-hit games.

“I’ve fine-tuned my approach at the plate and I feel like my swing decisions have been the best of my career,” Pillar said. “Mechanically … I got back to a really good feeling and a really good understanding of my swing the last three or four days.”

The Rockies optioned left-handed pitcher Phillip Diehl to the team’s alternate training site to make room for Pillar.

Story rests. Pillar replaced shortstop Trevor Story in the lineup Tuesday with a scheduled rest day for Colorado’s starting shortstop. Garrett Hampson substituted for Story in the field.

“Trevor has played every game,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “There’s been just a couple times we’ve taken him out and we saved a couple of innings. This was a good day for Trev not to play. I think physically it will help him. I think mentally it will help him.”

Injury update. Black said that outfielder David Dahl (lower-back soreness) and utility player Chris Owings (hamstring) both played in an intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday morning at Coors Field with the team’s alternate group.

“David was moving great, physically felt good and got some at-bats today in a competitive fashion,” Black said. “(Owings) also hit, but he didn’t run. He got in the box, took his swings and saw live pitching. … Both of those guys are making progress.”


ON DECK

Padres RHP Logan Webb (2-3, 4.75 ERA) at Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (2-1, 3.43 ERA)
1:10 p.m. Wednesday, Coors Field
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 AM

Freeland’s streak of six consecutive quality starts to begin the year ended Friday night after he gave up four runs over 4 1/3 innings. It ranks as the longest such streak for Colorado since Ubaldo Jimenez set the team record with 14 consecutive quality starts to begin the 2010 season. Freeland is still the Rockies’ most consistent pitcher this year, having struck out 26  over 42 innings pitched. Freeland all-time against the Giants is 6-3 with a 3.21 ERA over 13 starts. Webb, 23, is in his second major league season in San Francisco. The right-hander has allowed only one home run over 31 innings pitched. In an Aug. 5 start against the Rockies, Webb earned a quality start with one earned run allowed over five innings.

Trending: Entering Tuesday night, Rockies starters led the National League with 195 innings pitched and 18 quality starts. Antonio Senzatela is one of four pitchers in the MLB with two starts of seven or more scoreless innings this season.

At issue: The Rockies have lost four consecutive home series (Diamondbacks, Rangers, Astros and Padres) dating back to Aug. 10. It is Colorado’s longest such losing streak since August 2015. The Rockies’ last home series victory was taking 3-of-4 against the Giants between Aug. 3-6.

Pitching Probables:
Thursday: OFF
Friday: Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (3-1, 3.32) at Dodgers RHP Dustin May (1-1, 2.83), 7:40 p.m., ATTRM
Saturday: Rockies RHP Ryan Castellani (1-2, 5.24) at Dodgers RHP Tony Gonsolin (0-0, 0.51), 7:10 p.m., ATTRM